Miami startup brings in the smart tech to ease property management burdens
The dishwasher is broken. Who are you going to call? Whether you are the tenant or the guest, the landlord or the property manager, managing and maintaining a leased or short-term rental property isn’t easy.
Yari Carrizo and Daniel Detoni are on a mission to reimagine property management.
With their technology startup, Tennts, the founders aim to help landlords optimize the potential of their properties and improve the rental experience for tenants. Their platform connects all the stakeholders of a property to make reporting maintenance issues, scheduling repairs or cleaning services, and sending or receiving rental payments as seamless as possible.
With the explosion of interest in short-term rentals, one of the features of the platform is that it is easy for the property owner to switch between short- and long-term leasing, use dynamic pricing, advertise, and track their performance in real time.
On March 24, Carrizo, co-founder and chief operating officer, represented Tennts at the annual Miami Herald Pitch Competition and won top honors in the contest’s Florida International University track.
“We are a proptech startup that has a vision to automate buildings, help residents and landlords communicate effectively, and create a trustful ecosystem in every place someone calls home,” Carrizo said, in an interview after the competition’s pitchathon and awards ceremony held at FIU’s business school.
Seema Pissaris, FIU business professor and a pitch competition judge, said she was “really impressed by Yari’s clear understanding of the property manager’s problems and how the features of the [Tennts] app were designed specifically to address these.
“I also liked Tennts’ vision to work seamlessly with home rental sites such as Airbnb for the property management industry,” Pissaris said.
These startup founders have experienced property management from the ground floor.
Carrizo, an FIU alum who was born in Panama but grew up in South Florida, started managing a handful of properties as a young mother of twins, who was looking for a career change from corporate communications. She enjoyed it and continued adding to her portfolio of properties. A couple of years later, she joined forces with Detoni, who had a background in technology and business consulting.
“We saw the creation of Airbnb and how it was disrupting the market, allowing landlords to take control of their property and use it for their benefit. We saw a big opportunity,” she said.
The entrepreneurs opened a brokerage for their property management business in 2014, and over the years it became clear to them they needed to automate their processes, for instance, to schedule the cleaners or make sure they were advertising in the right channels, Carrizo said. In 2019, they participated in a startup accelerator program in New York.
“But then we all know what happened in 2020,” she said.
The pandemic, of course, shut their property management business for a while, but they kept thinking about their bigger vision of an all-in-one technology platform and used that down time to refocus and restructure. In 2020, Carrizo and Detoni rebranded and founded Tennts, with “smart living technology” that streamlines the rental process and enhances the tenant experience by connecting properties with various solutions.
“We also have an internal communication system that connects to the building managers, the landlord and the residents so everybody is able to know what’s going on inside the unit in real-time,” said Carrizo, noting siloed communication was one of the problems they saw in the property management industry.
Over the next two years, Tennts’ founders built a core team of eight employees and advisors. In 2022, they received a grant through the Miami Downtown Development Authority’s incentives program. In total, the company has raised about $500,000, including money from Starta Ventures in New York and Miami angel investor Giorgio Prestipino, who was an early property management customer of the founders and was inspired to invest in their bigger vision. Tennts, part of an emerging property technology sector in Miami, also recently contracted with an 1,800-unit customer.
Tennts will make money with four business models: subscriptions, freemium, pay-per-use, and marketplace. Detoni explained that with their subscriptions, users can choose to subscribe to services and features on a monthly or annual basis, such as cleaning and laundry services. Their freemium option allows customers to access a basic version of the software for free, but they can opt to pay for a premium version.
Users can also pay-per-use for services they request, and with the marketplace options users buy and sell services, with Tennts taking a percentage of each transaction.
The Tennts team has a minimum viable product ready to launch in the next couple of months, and beta testers are using the platform. Carrizo said. The platform already has supported about $500,000 in transactions. The startup is raising a $5 million seed round of financing, with a goal of acquiring two large property management firms.
“We have an ambitious plan to grow exponentially in the next three years,” said Detoni, the CEO. “Over the next six months, our primary focus will be to successfully close our seed round, grow our B2C users via local guerrilla marketing, and develop an enhanced set of essential features to onboard an initial 200 new accounts from a total of over 1,800 accounts that will be added in the next three years through our new B2B large landlord partnership.”
Tennts’ 18-month, go-to-market strategy involves implementing various strategies to attract more real estate agents to the platform, as well as acquiring property management companies and forming strategic partnerships to expand reach, Detoni said. After that, the plan is to expand further in the U.S. and in international markets.
YARI CARRIZO’S ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS: “Believe in yourself, believe in your vision, there’s always an opportunity out there for a person who doesn’t quit. Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win. That’s what my dad used to say. Just keep going, network, put yourself out there, be passionate about what you’re creating, and celebrate your small wins along the way.”